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Hot Wheels Mattel History

1945

Mattel creations logo 1945 - 1955
Mattel Creations was founded by Harold "Matt" Matson and the husband-and-wife duo of Ruth and Elliot Handler in January 1945. It is headquartered in El Segundo, California. Harold Matson's last name and Elliot Handler's first name was used to create "Matson Elliot", the company was named MATTEL.

1948

The company was incorporated in Hawthorne, California, in 1948

1953

Mattel's Dream Car
One of Mattel's first toy cars was released in 1953 with the "Dream Car" stock #465 available in Red Blaze, Chartreuse Dreamliner (green), Black Diamond, and Blue Bullet.

Mattel's 1953 Dream Car
Dream Car was advertised as a low-slung, impact-resistant plastic body. Permanent high gloss chrome trim. BOMBER Bubble transparent convertible top. SPEED STREAK friction motor. 4 Futuristic colors. Individually packed in an eye-catching three-color box. Car size: 10 1/2 inches long X 2 1/4 inches high x 5 inches wide.

Mattel Dream Mobile diecast 2020
Mattel would produce the "Mattel Dream Mobile" as a diecast 67 years later in 2020 with mainline number 129 Mattel Dream Mobile in red as part of the HW Dream Garage series number 6. The card displays an est. 1945 Mattel 75 years logo.

1955

Mattel, Inc. toymakers
logo 1955 - 1961
Mattel Creation changed the name to Mattel Toymakers, Inc.

1956

Jack Ryan was a missile engineer for aerospace giant Raytheon. He helped create the Sparrow and Hawk missiles before coming to Mattel Toy Inc. Ryan led Mattel's research and development department, which designed the Barbie doll for the US market.

1957

Exploiting the popularity of television westerns, introduced toy replicas of classic western guns and holsters. From the basic Burp Gun mechanism, Mattel developed the "Fanner 50" western pistol and a toy version of the Winchester rifle.

1959

Mattel introduced the Barbie doll, which would eventually become the best-selling toy, named after Handler's daughter, Barbara.

1960

Mattel went public in 1960 and became listed on the New York Stock Exchange 3 years later in 1964.

1961

Mattel, Inc. toymakers
logo 1961 - 1969
Mattel, Inc. Toymakers updated the logo in 1961

1963

The company gains a listing on the New York Stock Exchange.

1965

Matchbox has imported 1:64 die-cast cars to the US since 1954. Elliot's son Ken (yes, that Ken) was playing with the toy cars, and Elliot asked why his company could not produce a similar toy car.

1966

Released a Miniature Cars Carry Case for Matchbox and other brands of cars at that time.

Elliot Handler hired Harry Bradley. Harry was a car designer working for GM since 1962. Harry also worked on several hot rodding projects and was active in the California hot rodding scene.

1966 into 1967

Harry designed the first Hot Wheels, the Custom Fleetside, which was an artist's rendering of a customized 1964 Chevrolet El Camino with a bright and strong California custom car style,

1967

Jack Ryan was tasked with making the new toy car wheels, taking inspiration from the 1965 Chevrolet Corvair Monza and the Torq Thrust 5-spoke. The competitor, like Matchbox, designed the 1:64 car for display. Handler wanted Mattel's cars to be fast!

The earliest prototype base number 2 Camaro in blue. The base is 1967 Mattel, Inc. HOT WHEELS 2 CAMARO. Several more test Camaro's were finished in enamel white to help spot imperfections.

Spectraflame Paint
The Spectraflame paint was created to look like the California custom scene shiny metalflake candy apple paint. Early prototypes were nickel chrome plated to help the color pop on TV and in print ads.

Orange Plastic Tracks
In 1964, Jerome Lamelson patented flexible connecting plastic track pieces. Mattel and Lamelson would litigate into the 1980s over the patent infringement over Mattel's famous orange racing track.

The orange track allows kids to race their cars with the quick and easy set-up, it was the first of its kind and an immediate advantage over everything else on the market.

Hot Wheels art and packaging
Mattel hires graphic designer, Otto Kuhni, to design the Hot Wheels packaging

1968 - January

Mattel filed patents on the wheel and piano wire suspension with Delrin bushings, which helped to reduce fiction.

1968 - May

May 18, 1968 was Hot Wheel's official launch of the original 16 designs known as the Sweet 16.

1969

Mattel, Inc. toymakers logo
1961 - 1969
Mattel, Inc. drops "Toymaker" updates the logo in 1969

Larry R. Wood
Hired to lead designing Hot Wheels

1970

Hot Wheels Sizzlers
The Sizzlers were introduced to the market with a built-in motor and a tiny rechargeable battery. They were introduced in 1970 and became an instant smash. Sizzlers run on the regular "orange" Hot Wheels track, and Mattel created special race sets with U-Turns, multi-level spirals, and loops to take advantage of the car's electric motor.

1973

The original Spectraflame was banned from manufacturing because it contained lead. Due to financial issues, Mattel did not research a lead-free alternative and replaced it with metallic enamel paints.

1974

Elliot and Ruth Handler leave Mattel
In 1974, an investigation found Mattel guilty of issuing false and misleading financial reports, which led to the the Mattel board removing Elliot and Ruth Handler from the company they had founded in 1945.

Tampo Printing
Flying Colors introduced with tampo printing allow Hot Wheels for add graphic and detailing to the cars for the first time.

1975

Muky produced in Argentina
Muky was founded by Libio Conti and his brother and operated under the name "Fabrica de Juguetes Muky" ("Muky Toy Factory"). Situated in the city of Gualeguay, within Argentina's Entre Rios Province, approximately 145 miles northwest of Buenos Aires, the company gained recognition for its production of die-cast toy cars.

One notable aspect of Muky's offerings was its penchant for replicating early models from Mattel's Hot Wheels line. Among these were replicas of iconic Hot Wheels cars such as the Custom Corvette, the Lola T70, the Custom Eldorado, and the Dodge Deora. As a result, Muky earned the moniker of the "Hot Wheels of Argentina."

While Muky's toy cars garnered attention, they did not achieve the same level of popularity or collectability as the Buby toys within Argentina. Buby specialized in producing toy vehicles inspired by Argentine models such as Ramblers and Falcons, which likely resonated more deeply with local children due to their familiarity with these vehicles. Despite this, Muky left its mark as a notable player in Argentina's toy industry, offering a unique spin on beloved Hot Wheels classics.

The manner in which Induguay acquired the Mattel dies remains shrouded in uncertainty, with several theories circulating regarding the circumstances. One account suggests that the DeConti brothers, founders of Induguay, pilfered the dies from Mattel, although two other prevailing theories offer more plausible explanations.

One theory proposes that the models were meticulously replicated from blueprints, allowing Induguay to create their versions without directly obtaining the original dies. Another possibility is that third-party agents, potentially with Mattel's consent, facilitated the transfer of some dies to the DeContis.

Regardless of the exact method of acquisition, a comparison of catalogs featuring both old and new models reveals that Mattel seldom reissued the 37 models initially manufactured by Induguay. The Arciprete family, who currently oversees the Muky brand, has retained ownership of the tooling. While they neither confirm nor deny the possibility, there exists a chance that they may choose to produce more Mukys in the future.

1976

Hot Wheels was production 6,000 units per week.

1977

The Last of the Red Line Wheels. The transition from redline to blackwall tires in Hot Wheels cars marked the end of an era for many collectors and enthusiasts. While Mattel cited changing times in the automotive industry as the reason behind this shift, there are lingering beliefs that financial considerations also played a significant role.

During the late 1970s and early 1980s, Mattel faced various financial challenges, including increased competition in the toy market and rising production costs. As a result, the company may have sought ways to reduce expenses and streamline manufacturing processes. Transitioning from the more intricate redline tires to simpler blackwall tires could have been a cost-saving measure for Mattel.

Additionally, the automotive industry was indeed undergoing significant changes during this period, with a shift towards smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles. This shift may have influenced Mattel's decision to update the design of Hot Wheels cars to reflect contemporary automotive trends.

While the exact reasons behind the discontinuation of redline tires remain unclear, it is evident that both financial considerations and changing industry dynamics played a role in this decision. Despite the end of the redline era, these iconic tires continue to hold a special place in the hearts of Hot Wheels collectors and enthusiasts around the world.

1979

Hot Wheels Scorchers
Scorchers represented a groundbreaking advancement in the Hot Wheels lineup when they were introduced in 1979. Unlike their predecessors, such as the battery-powered Sizzlers and rubber-band powered Revvers, Scorchers were the first die-cast cars from Hot Wheels to feature a spring-powered mechanism that actually worked convincingly.

Prior to the release of Scorchers, Hot Wheels had experimented with various forms of motorization, but none had achieved the level of performance and reliability seen in these new vehicles. With Scorchers, Hot Wheels enthusiasts finally had die-cast cars that could zip across flat surfaces with impressive speed and agility, thanks to the innovative spring-powered mechanism.

The Scorchers series consisted of twelve unique castings, each with two versions bearing different names. Six of these castings were introduced in 1979, followed by two more in 1980 and an additional four in 1981. The diverse range of models offered collectors a variety of options, from classic muscle cars to futuristic concept vehicles.

Despite their initial success, the Scorchers series was ultimately discontinued in 1982. However, during their brief time on the market, Scorchers left a lasting impression on Hot Wheels enthusiasts and collectors alike. Today, these spring-powered vehicles are prized by collectors for their innovative design and historical significance within the Hot Wheels lineup.

Hot Wheels Scene Machines
In 1979, Hot Wheels introduced the Scene Machines, a unique series of vehicles that featured a special design element: a picture inside the car that could be viewed through a magnified lens molded into the back window. This innovative feature added an extra layer of excitement and collectability to the Scene Machines series

1980

Metalflake Paint
The Spacer Racer, an original Hot Wheels model designed by Larry Wood, introduced the innovative concept of Metalflake paint. Crafted to resemble an outer-space planet rescue vehicle, this unique creation features a rotating plastic nozzle specially designed to extinguish fires in the vast reaches of space.

Hot Wheels HiRakers
The Hot Wheels HiRakers series was introduced in 1980, offering die-cast vehicles with a unique feature: adjustable rear axles that could be raised or lowered to alter the stance of the model. This innovative design allowed collectors to customize the rake of their cars, adding an extra level of personalization to their Hot Wheels collection. By adjusting the rear axle, collectors could create a variety of different looks, from a lowered stance for a sleek and aggressive appearance to a raised stance for a more rugged and off-road-ready aesthetic. The HiRakers series quickly became popular among Hot Wheels enthusiasts, offering a fun and interactive way to customize their die-cast vehicles.

1981

Hot Wheels Steering Rigs
Steering Rigs are introduced to the market. Hot Wheels Steering Rigs was a line of detailed semi tractor and trailer sets. On the back of the trailer, there was a large wheel used to steer the rig.

Hot Wheels Steering Rigs were manufactured in two distinct locations: Hong Kong and France. Each piece bears the country of manufacture, allowing collectors to easily identify their origin. While both versions share similarities, such as the general design, differences between the French and Hong Kong variants can range from minor details, such as the base, to more significant disparities, including colors or the presence of opening doors.

Interestingly, the French manufacturing process occasionally resulted in mixed assemblies of the tractor and trailer. This oversight led to instances where a Peterbilt semi was paired with an Allied Moving trailer, which should have been accompanied by a Mack semi. Despite these occasional discrepancies, collectors appreciate the uniqueness and diversity that such variations bring to the Hot Wheels Steering Rigs collection.

In 1982, alongside the introduction of the blue Hong Kong packaging, Hot Wheels also introduced red packaging reminiscent of the French pieces. This packaging change further adds to the distinctiveness of the Steering Rigs line and offers collectors additional variety in their hunt for these sought-after collectibles.

The Hot Ones wheels
In 1981, Hot Wheels introduced a groundbreaking innovation with a new wheel design that revolutionized the iconic die-cast cars. Unlike the traditional Jfor increased speed and performance, reminiscent of Hot Wheels' early days of fast and thrilling races. The debut castings in 1981 were packaged in regular blister packs, some featuring the caption "The Hot Ones" in a vibrant "ka-pow" style.

One of the most notable features of this new wheel design was its appearance on all four wheels of the car, marking a significant departure from previous models. Initially simply referred to as "Hot Ones" or "HO," the wheels later became known as "Gold Hot Ones" (GHO) after Mattel released a limited number of cars with Silver Foil (SHO) wheels.

While some collectors' books and guides may classify these early releases as 1982 models, they were indeed launched in 1981. Notably, one example is the Science Friction casting.

This period also coincided with Mattel's efforts to transition production to its Malaysia plant, which began manufacturing Hot Wheels in 1983. This shift marked a significant milestone in the brand's history, paving the way for future innovations and advancements in diecast car manufacturing

1983

Malaysia Plant open to production
Mattel opens the Malaysia manufacturing plant. This plant allowed Hot Wheels to manufacture rubber tires call Real Riders.

Hot Wheels Real Riders
Bob Rosas helped engineer a new style of wheel called Real Riders. The Real Rider Series would run from 1983 to 1987.

Hot Wheels Shift Kickers
Shift Kickers was a unique series of Hot Wheels cars that made a brief appearance in 1983 before being discontinued in 1984. What set these cars apart was their innovative "stick shift" action, which added an element of interactive play to the vehicles.

Each car in the Shift Kickers series featured a distinctive comically oversized shifter, which served as both a handbrake and a mechanism to control the car's movement. Pulling back the handle would lock the wheels in place, preventing the car from moving, while pushing the handle forward would release the brakes and allow the car to go.

The series comprised modified versions of existing Scorchers castings, with the addition of the unique stick shift mechanism. While the concept was novel, Shift Kickers cars were produced for only a short period, making them quite rare and collectible today. Loose examples of these cars are often found in poor condition due to their age and limited availability.

Interestingly, the "Shift Kicker" name resurfaced in later years for two unrelated castings in 1991 and 2004, although these models did not feature the same stick shift action as the original series. Despite its short-lived run, the Shift Kickers series remains a fascinating footnote in the history of Hot Wheels, remembered fondly by collectors for its innovative design and playful concept.

1984

Ultra Hots series
The Ultra Hots series was produced between 1984 and 1986 features Spectraflame-style paint. The series would return on 2022 as Target Exclusive.

1985

Hot Wheels Crack-Ups
Crack-Ups released (1985 - 1987) and designed to be crashed into each other with panels flipped over on impact to show the damage.

The 700 Millionth car was producted and commemorate with Highway Hauler

Kellogg cereal strikes a deal with Hot WHeels to produce cars for a mail-in box tops program

1986

John Amerman is name Mattel CEO
John Amerman would work to reinvent the Hot Wheels line and bring back collecting with the release of the numbered series

Hot Wheels Flip Out
Hot Wheels Flip Out released with 8 models

Leo Mattel starts production in India
To navigate stringent foreign trade regulations in India, particularly the Foreign Exchange Regulations Act, which mandated a 40% dilution of shares to convert the company into an Indian entity, Mattel joined forces with Blow Plast in a joint venture. This collaboration led to the creation of an Indian affiliate named Leo Mattel or Leo Toys in 1986. Ownership of the affiliate was divided in a 60-40 split between Blow Plast and Mattel, respectively. This partnership granted Mattel the ability to operate in India under the same permissions as an Indian company, as Mattel's ownership stake remained below the 40% threshold outlined by the FERA.

Under the umbrella of this partnership, Leo Mattel produced a range of toys, including Hot Wheels cars, Barbie dolls, and notably, He-Man figures. These toys were manufactured in factories located in Mumbai and Nagpur. Starting in 1991, Mattel gained the ability to import essential materials, as import restrictions were lifted.

The build quality of the india-produced cars would ultimately be deemed not up to Mattel's standards as certain cars would be affected by the crumbling issue last seen in the early 1970s

The Leo Mattel brand eventually phased out in 2000 when Mattel terminated its joint venture with Blow Plast, citing the latter's failure to meet Mattel's quality standards. Following this, Mattel established Mattel Toys (India) Pvt. Ltd. the same year. Today, Hot Wheels cars manufactured by Leo Mattel are highly sought-after collectibles.

VIP Industries, formerly known as Blow Plast Inc., is an Indian luxury luggage manufacturer renowned for its venture into the toy industry from 1986 to 2000.

1987

Inaugural Hot Wheels Collectors Convention in October
The first Hot Wheels Collectors Convention was held in Toledo, OH, on October 10, 1987. Organized by Mike Strauss, the Founder of the Hot Wheels Newsletter

Last year of Real Riders (until 1995) due to high production costs and the phasing out of the US based Paramount Plant. Which offical shut it's doors in October of 1987

1988

Hot Wheels 20th Anniversary
mattel released several 20th anniversary sets with the Hot Wheels 20th anniversary logo embossed on the roof.

Hot Wheels Billionth Car
Hot Wheels Mattel Billionth Car was the Gold Corvette Convertible

Hot Wheels Auto Magic series
Introduced in 1988. Auto Magic change colors as you change the temperature of the paint, Mattel advertised to use hot or cold water.

1989

Hot Wheels Park 'n Plates Series
Park 'n Plates Series (1989 - 1991, 1998, 2003 - 2004), the car came with a stackable license plate container to store the vehicle.

1990

California Custom Series
California Custom Series (1990 - 1991), which was a short return of the Real Riders rubber tires.

1991

Super California Custom Series
In 1991, Mattel launched the Super California Custom series, featuring twelve models spread across six different castings. This series took inspiration from the HiRakers series of the 1980s, allowing collectors to raise the rear axles to fit a pair of oversized rubber wheels. Additionally, raising the axle caused the front engine to pop up, adding to the custom look of the cars. Each package included a set of decals along with a plastic ramp, car jack, or engine hoist, enhancing the play value and customization options for collectors.

1993

Hot Wheels Revealers
The Revealers, introduced in 1993, marked the inception of the original Mystery cars in the Hot Wheels lineup. These cars were packaged in unique clear blister packs, concealed within a yellow opaque paper baggie, adding an element of suspense and excitement to the unboxing experience. While the intention was for collectors to dissolve the baggie in water to reveal the car inside, many opted for the simpler method of tearing it open.

Each baggie bore a number, offering a clue as to which car lay hidden within. For instance, the presence of the number "11" suggested that the package contained the Custom Corvette Convertible. However, the exact color variation remained a mystery until the car was revealed.

Adding to the intrigue, a select few Revealers were packaged with a plastic Hot Wheels Logo token. Discovering one of these tokens was akin to striking gold, as it entitled the lucky finder to a special prize from Mattel. Those who unearthed a token with a blue logo were eligible to receive an exclusive 10-Pack of Hot Wheels, while those who uncovered a token with a gold logo were rewarded with a coveted 22" Bicycle adorned in Hot Wheels Team Blue livery, complete with logos, as well as a Gold Plated Lamborghini Countach.

Hot Wheels Tattoo Machines series
The Tattoo Machines series, released in 1993, featured 12 vehicles packaged with a unique twist. Each vehicle came with special packaging that included a small sheet of temporary tattoos. The cars themselves sported distinctive tampo designs resembling tattoos, and their names were changed to reflect the theme of these tampos. This series offered collectors a fun and creative way to enjoy their Hot Wheels while adding an extra element of customization with temporary tattoos.

1995

Hot Wheels Treasure Hunt
Treasure Hunt (sometimes called T-Hunt) is part of the mainline Hot Wheels. It consisted of 12 cars, with one released monthly or so until 2011. The original production run was 10,000 of each vehicle worldwide. That number has since risen due to the increasing demand for and popularity of Hot Wheels as a collector's item.

The Treasure Hunt series is fitted with Real Riders rubber tires, which was the first appearance of Real Rider since 1987. The 1995 mainline Treasure Hunts with 7 of 12 receiving Real Riders.

1995 Real Rider series
Real Rider series with 4 models - Dump truck, Mercedes-Benz Unimog, 59 caddy, and Corvette Stringray.

1996

Computer Cars Series
In 1996, Hot Wheels released a series called "Computer Cars," featuring six unique models. Each car in this series came with a special 3.5-inch floppy disk tailored to that specific model. The floppy disk included a variety of content for collectors, such as interesting facts about the car, a comic strip related to the model, and even a mini-game for added entertainment. This innovative approach combined the excitement of collecting die-cast cars with interactive digital content, offering enthusiasts a unique and engaging experience beyond traditional toy cars.

Mattel aquires Tyco Toys for $755 million
Tyco Toys produced Matchbox, bringing together two major players in the diecast car industry. With Matchbox and Hot Wheels now operating under the same umbrella. Mattel essentially gained a virtual monopoly in the 1:64 diecast market. This consolidation of two iconic brands allowed Mattel to leverage their combined resources and expertise to maintain a dominant position in the diecast toy car market.

1997

John Amerman stepped down as Mattel CEO
Jill Barad is named Mattel CEO and is known for cutting of Mattel's unprofitable assets and streamlining the operations.

Plymouth license returns
1997 the Plymouth name plate return to Hot Wheels deicast for the first time since the 1970s.

1998

Hot Wheels produces convention cars for the first time
At the 12th Annual Hot Wheels Collectors Convention in Anaheim, CA, October 15- 19, 1998, Hot Wheels produces some of the conventions car for the first time. Prior to 1998, the annual convention car were Code 3 hot wheels cars produced by 3rd parties.

Mattel celebrates Hot Wheels 30th anniversary
To celebrate 30 years of Hot Wheels, Mattel pulled out all the stops with a special release of 30 models one for each year since the brand's inception. These collector's edition vehicles were created exclusively for the 30th anniversary of Hot Wheels, paying homage to the iconic cars that have graced the tracks and playsets over the years.

Each of the 30 models represented a different year in Hot Wheels history, capturing the essence of that particular era with its unique design and packaging. From classic muscle cars to futuristic concept vehicles, the collection showcased the diversity and innovation that have defined Hot Wheels for three decades.

In addition to the individual models, Mattel also released a boxed set containing all 30 cars, presented in their period-appropriate packaging and housed in a sleek blue box. This comprehensive set offered collectors the ultimate tribute to Hot Wheels' storied history, allowing them to relive the excitement of each year's releases in one convenient package.

To top it all off, Hot Wheels selected the iconic TWIN MILL as the "flagship" vehicle to commemorate the series. As the first original in-house designed concept vehicle, the TWIN MILL holds a special place in Hot Wheels history, making it the perfect choice to represent the brand's 30th anniversary.

The Hot Wheels 30th Anniversary collection was a fitting tribute to three decades of innovation, creativity, and fun. With its carefully curated selection of models and attention to detail, the collection captured the magic of Hot Wheels and honored the brand's enduring legacy in the world of diecast cars.

Beyond the cars and sets themselves, Hot Wheels' 30th anniversary was also marked by special events, promotions, and collaborations that brought fans together to celebrate their shared passion for the brand. From exclusive meet-and-greet events with Hot Wheels designers to limited-time offers and giveaways, there was no shortage of ways for fans to get involved and join in the celebration.

Mattel acquires Corgi
Corgi, a renowned diecast toy car manufacturer, was acquired by Mattel in 1989. Shortly thereafter, around 1991, new products were introduced under various lines such as Corgi Auto-City, Corgi Superhaulers, Corgi Collection, and Corgi Turbos Collection, featuring updated colorways and liveries. However, it wasn't until 1994 that all these lines were merged with the Hot Wheels lineup.

Following the discontinuation of the Hot Wheels Auto-City line in 1995, several Corgi models found their way into the Hot Wheels mainline or were included in retailer-exclusive boxed sets. However, Corgi regained its independence in 1996 after another management buyout. Despite this, some ex-Corgi Juniors models continued to appear in the Hot Wheels basic range until 1997, with certain toolings being utilized as late as 2003, when the last remaining Corgi casting in use, the Porsche 911 Carrera, was officially retired.

In 1999, Corgi was acquired by Zindart International Limited, remaining under Zindart ownership until 2008, when Hornby purchased the brand. Notably, both of Corgi's initial competitor companies, Dinky and Lesney, also eventually came under Mattel ownership in subsequent years.

2001

Inaugural Hot Wheels Collectors Nationals
The Inaugural Hot Wheels Collectors Nationals in Oakbrook, Illinois, April 5-8, 2001. With the addtion of the second convention held in various locations in eastern united states the Collectors Convention no longer moved around the country and is always in held Southern California starting 2000.

2002

The Red Line Club (RLC)
The Red Line Club (RLC), often abbreviated as RLC, is an exclusive club hosted on the Mattel Creations website, formerly known as HotWheelsCollectors.com, catering specifically to adult collectors.

Membership in the club can be acquired through purchase on the Mattel Creations website for $19.99. Upon joining, members receive access to various benefits, including an exclusive vehicle known as a "club car" or membership car In the past, there was a limited number of memberships available for purchase, but as of 2022, there is no longer a cap on membership numbers. Additionally, the club car can now be purchased separately from the membership, while stocks last, or bundled with the membership. Previously, there were multiple variations of club cars available to choose from.

Membership perks include the opportunity to purchase exclusive vehicles produced in limited quantities, early access to sneak peeks of upcoming releases, and participation in forum discussions with fellow members. Red Line Club vehicles are highly regarded for their superior quality compared to Premium vehicles, often featuring intricate moving parts and premium detailing. New vehicles typically debut on Tuesdays at 9am PT.

2003

The Neo-Classics Series - 2003
The Neo-Classics Series featured four vehicles with Neo Red Line Wheels & Spectraflame Paint available excusively through HotWheelsCollectors.com.

2004

Red Line Club sELECTIONs Series
The inception of the Red Line Club sELECTIONs Series in 2004 marked a groundbreaking moment for collectors at HotWheelsCollectors.com. This series stood as a pioneering initiative, granting enthusiasts the unique chance to actively participate in the creation process of Hot Wheels models. Unlike conventional releases, the sELECTIONs Series allowed collectors to cast their votes for four cars within the series, influencing not only the selection of vehicles but also determining key elements of the casting. This democratic approach resulted in the production of models that resonated with the popular vote, creating a sense of community involvement and satisfaction.

In its initial years, the sELECTIONs Series showcased the democratic spirit by enabling collectors to shape the features of the casting based on their preferences. However, there was a transition in the series from 2011 to 2015 when the number of released cars was reduced to two. From 2016 - 2020, the series featured a single released car per year. Starting in 2021 - 2022, Mattel is back up to two cars per year, Then back to one car in 2023. Who knows what 2024 will bring?

2005

Hot Wheels Classics Series
Introduced in 2005, Hot Wheels Classics quickly became a sought-after line among adult collectors. Priced around $3.99 (USD) upon its debut, these meticulously crafted cars were designed to appeal to enthusiasts with a passion for vintage Hot Wheels models.

Each car in the Classics series features a sturdy metal base, ensuring durability and authenticity. What sets them apart is their release in various Spectraflame colors, reminiscent of the iconic hues from the early days of Hot Wheels. This attention to detail adds an extra layer of nostalgia for collectors who grew up playing with these iconic toy cars.

The Classics line is organized into different series, with each series offering a fresh selection of designs and color variations. Series 1 hit the shelves in 2005, followed by series 2 in 2006, series 3 in 2007, series 4 in 2008, and series 5 in 2009. Each release brought excitement and anticipation for collectors eager to add new additions to their collections.

One of the defining features of the Hot Wheels Classics series is the inclusion of Spectraflame colors, which harken back to the original Hot Wheels cars from the 1960s and 1970s. These vibrant hues add a nostalgic touch to each model, further enhancing their retro charm.

Hot Wheels Mail In Mystery Cars
The Mystery Cars initiative began as a mail-in offer by Hot Wheels, where the identity of the received car was deliberately kept a secret. However, in 2005, to commemorate the 10th Anniversary Treasure Hunt celebration, Mattel introduced a new twist to the Mystery Cars concept. This time, four mystery cars were released, with each car accompanied by a voucher.

Collectors who managed to gather all four vouchers were rewarded with an exclusive 13th Treasure Hunt Volkswagen Drag Bus. What made this offer particularly intriguing was that the vouchers, when combined, formed a complete picture of the Drag Bus

2006

Kmart mainline exclusives
Starting in 2006, Kmart exclusives mainline varations first release, as one the first retailers to partern with Mattel.

2007

Super Treasure Hunt Launched in mainline
Mattel introduced a two-tiered Treasure Hunt system. A regular Treasure Hunt will feature normal paint and plastic wheels like other Hot Wheels cars. The new Super Treasure Hunts are much harder to find, one per 12 to 13 cases. With 72 Hot Wheels in the case, that is about one treasure hunt per 1,000 Hot Wheels. A Super Treasure Hunt features premium Real Rider rubber wheels and Spectraflame paint.

Black Blister Mystery Series - release 2007
In 2007, Hot Wheels introduced mystery cars into the mainline series, adding an element of intrigue and excitement for collectors. Identifying a mystery car is relatively straightforward: the card will feature a distinctive black stripe on the right side, extending from the top to the bottom. Within this stripe, white writing spells out "MYSTERY." This unique marking signals that the car inside is part of the mystery series.

The mystery surrounding these cars extended beyond their packaging. Many collectors speculated about decoding the numbers on the mystery cars to determine their contents. However, until 2010, the only way to unveil the car inside was by opening the package. Unfortunately, this led to a surge in packages being opened in stores, prompting concerns.

To address this issue, the 2010 Mystery packaging introduced a small hole in the back, allowing curious collectors to catch a glimpse of the car inside without fully opening the package. This modification aimed to balance the excitement of mystery with the desire to preserve the packaging integrity for collectors.

Hot Wheels Classics Series 3 - Walgreens Exclusive 3-pack - 12 car set
The Walgreens exclusive Hot Wheels Classic 3-packs includes 12 models: Bone Shaker, '68 Nova, Bad Bagger, '69 Camaro, Plymouth King Kuda, Heavy Chevy, Nitty Gritty Kitty, Rodger Dodger, '65 Chevelle Malibu, '52 Chevy, Fat Fendered '40, and '40 Ford.

The discrepancy between car numbers in the single-car packaging and the Walgreens-exclusive 3-pack cards of Hot Wheels Classics Series 3 indeed added an extra layer of complexity for collectors. This kind of variation can often lead to confusion, especially for those trying to collect specific cars or complete sets.

In the regular single packs of Hot Wheels Classics Series 3, car number 9 is the Heavy Chevy. However, in the Walgreens-exclusive 3-pack cards for the same series, car number 9 is the Fat Fenders '10. Interestingly, in the regular single packs, the Fat Fenders '10 is numbered as car number 13.

2008

Mattel Hot Wheels Date Base Code
Starting in 2008, Mattel introduced a manufacture date code on the bottom of Hot Wheels and Matchbox - refer to as the Base Code. The first character is a letter that represents the year and the numbers which represent which week of the year the car was manufactured.

For example, if you have a base code that reads "B30", that is a casting from the 30th week of 2009. A base code reading "P41" is a casting from the 41th week of 2021 (the week of October 10, 2021). Letter "I", "O", & "Q" are not used.

Vintage Classics with Collector's Button
Hot Wheels introduced the Vintage Classics with Collector's Button as part of the 2008 Hot Wheels Classic series marking a special milestone in celebration of 40 years of Hot Wheels.

Hot Wheels Classics series underwent a significant change, reducing the number of cars released from 30 to 15. However, this year brought about the introduction of two distinct kinds of Hot Wheels Classics Series to cater to collectors' diverse preferences.

The first to hit the market was the Hot Wheels Vintage Classics with Buttons. This special release featured classic designs paired with collector's buttons, offering enthusiasts a unique opportunity to celebrate the rich history of Hot Wheels. The Vintage Classics series provided a nostalgic trip down memory lane for fans who appreciated the iconic cars that shaped their childhoods.

Following the success of the Vintage Classics, Hot Wheels Classics continued the wave of excitement with its own lineup of 15 cars. True to the series' signature style, these models showcased vibrant Spectraflame colors, enhancing their retro appeal. Collectors were delighted to have a total of 30 cars spread across two different sets, each offering a diverse selection of timeless designs and color variations

2008 Hot Wheels Modern Classics with Spectraflame paint
As part of the 40th anniversary celebration, Hot Wheels released the Modern Classics 15-car series, featuring iconic models with Spectraflame paint and chrome accents. This special plastic wheel set included several highly sought-after models, including the '77 Pontiac Firebird, '83 Silverado, Buick Grand National, Honda Civic Si, and '92 Ford Mustang. Each car in the series showcased a blend of modern design and classic styling, paying homage to Hot Wheels' rich heritage while appealing to collectors and enthusiasts alike.

The Spectraflame paint finish added a vibrant, metallic sheen to the cars, while the chrome accents provided a sleek and polished look. With their timeless appeal and premium features, the Modern Classics series quickly became a favorite among Hot Wheels collectors, capturing the essence of the brand's enduring legacy.

2009

Hot Wheels Classics Chase with Real Riders
Hot Wheels added the Real Rider chase to the 2009 Hot Wheels Classics series.

Larry's Garage Series

The Hot Wheels Larry's Garage series released in 2009 consists of 21 diecast model with real Riders and metalbases. Larry Wood has been with Mattel's Hot Wheels since 1969. Each casting was either designed by Larry or chosen by Larry for its relationship to the Hot Wheels brand and himself.

Available through Toy's R US was the Larry's Garage 21-Car Set. There were only 5000 sets made, and all the cars in this set come in an exclusive color scheme. The 21st car was the Pass'n Gasser.

Dragstrip Demons Series

Launched in 2009 and continued in 2010, Dragstrip Demons became a beloved Hot Wheels series among collectors. Over the course of these two years, a total of 55 distinct cars were released, each boasting a metal base, Real Rider wheels, and intricate decorations. Many of the cars in this series were inspired by real-life drag racing vehicles, adding to their authenticity and appeal.

What set Dragstrip Demons apart was the use of 18 different castings, with an impressive 13 of them being brand-new and never-before-seen. This infusion of fresh designs injected excitement into the series, captivating collectors and enthusiasts alike with its diverse lineup of meticulously crafted models.

2010

Toys-R-Us hot wheels exclusives
Toys-R-Us joins the retailer exclusive market in parnership with Mattel to release a series of Toys-R-Us exclusive mainline colors and mail-in models starting in 2010.

Hot Wheels Garage Series
The transition from Larry's Garage to the Hot Wheels Garage line in 2010 marked an evolution in the Hot Wheels universe. With Larry Wood's retirement, the torch was passed to a new generation of designers, including Phil Riehlman and Wayne Scott. Despite Larry's departure, his influence persisted through his involvement with his cars in the line.

The 2010 Hot Wheels Garage series introduced eight fresh castings, further diversifying the Hot Wheels collection and maintaining its tradition of innovation and creativity. It's fascinating to see how personnel changes can impact the direction and character of a beloved brand like Hot Wheels.

2011

Unique Mattel Parts (toy) Number by model/color
Before 2011, Hot Wheels Mattel used a numbering system where the part number corresponded to the casting or model, not the color variations. For example, in the 2010 mainline series, the Hot Wheels part number R0971 ('67 Pontiac Firebird 400) was available in three colors (green, red, or blue) shared the same part number across all three colors.

However, starting in 2011, a unique number was assigned to each model/color combination. For instance, the 2011 mainline '10 Ford Shelby GT-500 Super Snake was offered in three colors (blue, maroon, and yellow), each with its own unique Mattel number. The blue variant had the Mattel number T9673, the maroon variant had T9932, and the yellow variant had T9994. This change allowed for better organization and identification of different variations within the same model.

HotWheelsCollectors.com Original 16 (RLC)
The HotWheelsCollectors.com Original 16 series comprises vehicles sold exclusively on HotWheelsCollectors.com. These vehicles are replicas of the first sixteen models produced in 1968. They were released individually over multiple years, including 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, and 2018. Each model is packaged on a replica of the 1968 card and includes a metal Collector's Button, adding to their nostalgic appeal. In addition to individual releases, a complete set of all sixteen vehicles was offered in 2018, packaged in a replica of the original 1968 'Store Display,' providing collectors with a unique opportunity to own a piece of Hot Wheels history.

Hot Wheels Garage final year 2011
The Hot Wheels Garage series 2011 continued its stride in 2011, following up on the success of the previous iterations. This time, the series took a new approach by organizing the collection into Manufacturer Garages, adding a layer of thematic coherence and appeal for collectors.

Dividing the series into Manufacturer Garages, such as Ferrari, Ford, GM, Mopar, and Volkswagen, allowed Hot Wheels enthusiasts to explore and collect cars from their favorite automotive brands. This strategy not only showcased a diverse range of vehicles but also catered to the preferences of different types of collectors, whether they were fans of American muscle cars, European sports cars, or iconic Volkswagen models.

This organizational structure likely contributed to the series' popularity and continued to reinforce Hot Wheels' status as a premier brand for diecast car enthusiasts.

Hot Wheels Vintage Racing Series
Hot Wheels enthusiasts were treated to the debut of the Vintage Racing Series, marking the transition from the beloved Dragstrip Demons series. With atotal of 30 unique castings, this new lineup captured the essence of classic racing cars with its meticulously crafted designs.

Manufactured exclusively in Thailand, each model in the 2011 Vintage Racing series boasted exceptional attention to detail, reflecting the brand's commitment to authenticity and quality. From vintage muscle cars to iconic racing legends, collectors were presented with a diverse array of vehicles that paid homage to motorsport history.

The Vintage Racing quickly garnered praise for its nostalgic appeal and dedication to capturing the spirit of vintage racing. With its carefully curated selection of castings, Hot Wheels once again demonstrated its ability to captivate collectors and enthusiasts alike with its timeless designs and enduring passion for automotive culture.

Hot Wheels Nostalgic Brands series
The Hot Wheels Nostalgic Brands series is a special collection that pays homage to iconic brands and franchises from various eras. Introduced as part of the Hot Wheels premium lineup in 2011 with the release of Masters of the Universe. This Real Riders and metal-based series captures the essence and nostalgia of beloved brands, bringing back memories of classic toys, movies, TV shows, and more.

Each car in the Nostalgic Brands series features detailed designs inspired by famous logos, characters, and themes associated with the respective brand.From retro cartoons and video games to popular candy and beverage brands, the collection celebrates a diverse range of pop culture icons that have left a lasting impact on generations. The Nostalgic Brands series was replaced by the Pop Culture series in 2013.

Hot Wheels Mystery Models in foil packs
In early November 2011, Hot Wheels introduced Mystery Models exclusively at Walmart stores across the United States. These vehicles were packaged in foil packs, resembling trading cards, a departure from the blister cards with blackened out bubbles used for Mystery Cars. The lineup consisted of 24 vehicles, with most of them being re-colors of previously released 2011 Hot Wheels models.

2012

Hot Wheels Boulevard Series
The transition from the Hot Wheels Garage series to the Hot Wheels Boulevard line in 2012 marked another chapter in the evolution of Hot Wheels' premium offerings. The Boulevard line, initially launched in 2012 and continued in 2013, offered collectors a curated selection of vehicles with distinctive themes and designs.

In 2012, the Hot Wheels Boulevard series was structured into six themed groups: Ahead of Its Time, Big Hits, Concept Cars, Legends, Show Rods, and Underdogs. Each group showcased cars with unique characteristics, paying homage to different eras, styles, and automotive cultures. This thematic organization added an extra layer of excitement for collectors, as they could anticipate and hunt for specific types of cars within each group.

However, in 2013, the Boulevard line underwent some changes. The themed groups were dropped, and fewer castings were produced compared to the previous year. Despite these alterations, the essence of the Boulevard line remained intact, offering collectors high-quality, premium die-cast cars that stood out from the regular Hot Wheels lineup.

The return of the Hot Wheels Boulevard line in 2020 under the Hot Wheels Premium label demonstrated the enduring popularity and appeal of this series among collectors. The revival likely introduced new designs and innovations while retaining the nostalgic charm and quality that enthusiasts have come to expect from the Boulevard line.

2013

Retro Entertainment Series - Hot Wheels Premium
Hot Wheels Retro Entertainment series released in 2013 with vehicles from some of your favorite movies and TV shows. The series changed to Hot Wheels Entertainment in 2014. In 2017 the name changed to Replica Entertainment series. Replica Entertainment was merged into the Pop Culture series in 2024. All feature vehicles Real Riders wheels and metal bases.

Pop Culture Series - Hot Wheels Premium
Starting in 2013, Pop Culture series replaced the similar series; Nostalgic Brands. These sub-series sets contain six vehicles of a similar theme, all with Real Riders wheels and a metal body and base. In 2016 the sub-series sets were reduce to five vehicles per set. Replica Entertainment was merged into the Pop Culture series in 2024.

Hot Wheels Cool Classics with Spectrafrost
Introduced in 2013, Hot Wheels Cool Classics quickly captured the attention of adult collectors worldwide. With a price point around $2.99 (USD), these meticulously crafted cars were designed to appeal to enthusiasts with a penchant for nostalgia and quality.

Each car in the Cool Classics series boasts a durable metal base, ensuring both authenticity and durability. The defining feature of these models is their Spectrafrost colors, which add a vibrant and shimmering aesthetic to each vehicle. Additionally, Retro Slot Wheels adorn these cars, adding to their vintage charm and appeal.

Manufactured exclusively in Thailand, Hot Wheels Cool Classics exemplify the brand's commitment to quality and craftsmanship. Whether reliving childhoodmemories or discovering new favorites, collectors appreciate the attention to detail and retro styling of these timeless models.

the 2013 Cool Classics series featured cards with a silver background behind the vehicle, showcasing the Custom Otto artwork in either blue or red. Interestingly, all models came with both Custom Otto color variants on the card, offering collectors a delightful surprise.

In contrast, the 2014 series presented cards with a white background behind the vehicle, highlighting the Custom Otto artwork in either gold or pink. Like its predecessor, all models from the 2014 series included both Custom Otto color variants on the card, adding an extra layer of ccollectabilityand excitement for enthusiasts.

Walmart ZAMAC Exclusive mainline
Walmart issued 18 unpainted mainlines for their exclusive Walmart mainline ZAMAC series starting on 2013. In 2023, the number would be reduced to 12 per year.

2014

Hot Wheels Premium Pop Culture
Starting in 2013, Pop Culture replaced the similar series; Nostalgic Brands. Hot Wheels Premium Pop Culture series sets contain six vehicles of a similar theme, all with Real Riders wheels and a metal body and base. In 2016 the Hot Wheels Pop Culture sets were reduce to five vehicles per set. Replica Entertainment was merged into the Pop Culture series in 2024.

2016

Car Culture Series Launches
Car Culture Series, starting in 2016, is an adult collector-focused premium series that is all about cultures or styles that involves cars. * All cars in the series feature Real Riders wheels, diecast bodies and bases.
* 2023 Hot Wheels Car Culture Speed Machines featured COMOLD plastic wheels like the originals from 2010 & 2013

Walgreens mainline exclusives
Walgreens starts to offer a single Walgreens hot wheels mainline exclusive color starting in 2016.

2017

Hot Wheels Target Red Edition - first release
Hot Wheels Target Red Edition offer collectors a unique twist on the classic mainline cars, available exclusively at Target stores. These special editions feature the same eye-catching designs as their mainline counterparts but come in exclusive colors that set them apart from the rest.

Launched in 2017, the Red Editions series quickly became a favorite among Hot Wheels enthusiasts. With 12 releases per year, the series is divided into groups of three in each case, providing collectors with a steady stream of new and exciting models to add to their collections.

Each Red Edition car boasts vibrant colors and detailed designs, making them stand out on the shelf and in any collection. Whether it's a sleek sports car, a rugged off-roader, or a vintage classic, there's a Red Edition model to suit every taste and preference.

Target's exclusive partnership with Hot Wheels ensures that collectors have access to these unique models, adding an element of excitement to each shopping trip. With limited availability and a rotating selection of designs, Red Editions have become highly sought-after among collectors, driving anticipation for each new release.

2018

Hot Wheels 50th Anniversary
Mattel celebrates Hot Wheels 50th anniversary with several special editions and sets.

Kroger mainline exclusive colors
Hot Wheels Kroger exclusive models are released for the first time

Hot Wheels Team Transport Set - Car Culture
Car Culture: Team Transport is a Hot Wheels premium series of car and truck sets beginning in 2018, consisting of a premium car and transport truck. All cars in the series feature Real Riders wheels, diecast bodies and metal bases.

2019

GameStop mainline color varation
GameStop enters the exclusive mainline color market after the Kmart exit. GameStop mainline exclusive ran for 2019 to 2022 with a total of 13 models available including a mail-in exclusive. GameStop was plagued with problems incuding open cases and customers receiving loose carded hot wheels instead of the seal case.

Hot Wheels Fast & Furious Premium series launches
Fast and Furious movie cars with Real Riders and metalbase. unlike the "Mainline" Walmart Fast & Furious Series with plastic wheels.The series was dropped for 2022, with Fast & Furious-themed Premium releases being put under the Replica Entertainment banner, before returning for 2023

2020

Dollar General mainline exclusive colors
Hot Wheels Dollar General Exclusive mainline models are released for the first time

Target exclusive Flying Customs
Get your groove on with Hot Wheels Target Flying Customs These styling rides are a Hot Wheels salute to the past with retro decos andwide-tracking fat blackwall tires.

Hot Wheels Boulevard - returns as a Walmart Exclusive
Boulevard series was first released in 2012/2013, the Hot Wheels Boulevard succeeded the 2010/2011 Hot Wheels Garage. Hot Wheels Boulevard was bought back in 2020 is an adult collector-focused premium series consisting of a wide range of vehicles with Real Riders wheels, diecast bodies and chassis. The series is a Walmart exclusive in the US.

2021

Hot Wheels Car Culture Two Pack
Hot Wheels Car Culture 2-car set introduced in mid-2021. These consist of two Hot Wheels premium cars, All cars in the series feature Real Riders wheels, diecast bodies and metal bases

2022

Target Ultra Hots
The Ultra Hots series with Spectraflame-style paint returns as a Target Exclusive. The orginal Ultra Hots series 1984 - 1986

Best Buy mainline Exclusives
The Best Buy mainline exclusives only ran for one year 2022

2023

Mattel celebrates the 40th anniversary in Malaysia
In Janaury, The Mattel celebrates the 40th anniversary in Malaysia, with the announcement of a plant expansion that is expected to be completed in January 2023. The world's largest Hot Wheels manufacturing plant, MMSB, is the world's only manufacturer of Hot Wheels singles. The plant has an average output capacity of approximately 9 million cars per week and currently employs almost 3,900 workers.

Walmart ZAMAC Exclusive reduces to 12 models
The number Walmart ZAMAC releases are reduced to 12 per year.

2024

Hot Wheels Replica Entertainment discontinued
Replica Entertainment was discontinued a has a stand alone series and merged into the Pop Culture series in 2024.

 

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